Businessman Philip Green, Chief Executive of Topshop, produces nothing of value. Nothing. He doesn’t design the clothes his stores sell, you only have to look at him to see he knows or cares little about fashion. He doesn’t make them either – sweatshop workers overseas, and here, take care of that. He did not build his empire with the sweat of his own brow but with the labour of low paid shop assistants, cleaners, security guards and delivery drivers. And that empire is now controlled by an officer class of buyers, marketing executives, stylists and middle managers whose main role is to keep his exploited workforce in line and promote unrealistic ideals of beauty and success to impressionable teenagers.
Even the government dances to his tune. He is supplied with an army of workfare workers – his former company BHS was caught out using Jobcentre schemes to get out of paying wages. His staff are educated and trained at the public expense with bogus apprenticeships that do lttile more than teach people how to make Philip Green more money. An ever ready to be violent police force patrols shopping districts waiting to pounce if his profits might be affected by just a few pounds – whether by shop lifters, peaceful protesters or unauthorised industrial action. The social security system tops up the poverty wages he pays with Tax Credits and Housing Benefits. And if he falls suddenly ill or one of his stores burns down, then it will be the tax payer funded emergency services that come screeching to his rescue. Yet he doesn’t expect to pay for any this – he pulls every trick in the book to avoid paying his fair share in tax for the services his business needs to prosper. And they call benefit claimants scroungers.
Whilst all this time and money is being spent protecting his cosseted lifestyle, Philip Green lives like an international playboy, holding glitzy parties that cost millions of pounds and sleazing up to super models and pop stars who he pays to pretend to like him. He thinks nothing of flying across the world in his private jet every week to visit his wife and money, both carefully stashed away in Monaco. The man oozes destruction on every level, leaving a trail of pollution and exploitation wherever he treads. And exploitation is his only true talent. A public school drop out he started his business as little more then an over-privileged Del Boy, flogging off old clothes for more than they were worth. He has continued that way ever since. Green’s billions are generated merely by his ability to cream off the productive value of his workforce – to pay them as little as possible for the work they do whilst reaping huge profits for himself.
At Topshop’s flagship store in London, Green does not even pay many of his workers the Living Wage – the amount calculated to provide the most basic existence in the capital. Those who rise in the early hours to clean his fucking toilets are expected to survive on a pittance, despite the fact that he could double their wages out of his own pocket and barely even notice the money was gone. To the so-called wealth creators this is perfectly natural – the people who really generate the money, us, are expected to spend our lives undertaking ever more arduous toil, living in shitholes with no time or resources to take any enjoyment from our lives. They want us to never complain, to be positive and hard-working, and unlike them, to pay our taxes to fund the infrastructure that creates the lavish lifestyles of the global rich. Meanwhile they sip champagne and chortle to themselves that they are getting away with it. It’s time to stop them getting away with it.
Only collective action can defeat these shameless parasites. Only by working class people acting together – not competing as individuals – can we bring an end to this ugly, destructive manifestation of cut-throat capitalism. Just because the official voice of our class – the giant trade unions – have long ago surrendered, does not mean we should give up. By organising together and using the creativity and skills we have for our benefit not their profits, we can start, slowly but surely, to create a better life for all of us.
The United Voices of the World Union are doing just that. As a grassroots union they have won significant victories for low paid workers using a range of miliant tactics from boisterous demonstrations to direct action. Now they have turned their attention to Philip Green’s empire with a protest due to be held outside Top Shop’s Oxford Circus store on Saturday 12th March demanding that cleaners, and all other staff, are paid the London Living Wage. A new form of working class resistance is taking shape that has no need for union bureacrats, strike ballots or official picket lines. It depends on the solidarity and support of us all so get down to Topshop, 214 Oxford St, London if you can this Saturday at 3pm. And please help spread the word – more details on facebook.
Follow United Voices of the World Union on twitter at: @UVWunion
Class War are also out on the streets this Saturday with a walk and talk from veteran working class anarchist Martin Wright discussing the Battle of Cable Street before heading off to the vile Ripper Museum. Meet 2pm prompt at Tower Hill Station. Martin’s youtube channel is well worth a look.
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